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Immigration status

As further evidence that common-sense immigration reforms have a long political row to hoe, a firestorm is brewing in Los Angeles over a lawsuit that demands police put the law ahead of the city’s code of political correctness.

For nearly 30 years, the Los Angeles Police Department has followed a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding illegal immigration. When responding to calls, interviewing suspects and making arrests, officers are, by department order, not allowed to inquire about immigration status. The defenders of this policy, which include the city’s mayor and police chief, say it ensures that immigrant populations can report crimes and cooperate with authorities without fear of deportation.

The policy, which has been adopted by police in Las Vegas and most major cities, allows illegals arrested and convicted of crimes ranging from felony driving under the influence to child abuse to remain in the country after serving their sentences — even as repeat offenders.

Americans who want to stop the flow of illegals into the country and minimize their cost to government services view the policy as an unconstitutional free pass for law-breakers. How many crimes against Americans would have been prevented over the years if offenders — illegals who broke laws beyond those violated when they entered our country — had their immigration status verified and were deported upon their first arrest?

As it turns out, a little-known California state code requires local police to notify federal agents if a noncitizen is arrested on suspicion of drug possession or trafficking. Various groups, including the Federal Immigration Reform Enforcement Coalition, are suing to seek enforcement of that code.

Already, a growing number of jurisdictions are developing programs and partnerships with federal agencies to train local cops on how to enforce immigration laws. These efforts don’t entail pulling buses up to The Home Depot and rounding up day laborers. They merely require police to determine whether suspects, once arrested on criminal charges, are in the country illegally.

And Arizona voters, who’ve already stated their desire to deny public services to illegals, just voted to deny bail to illegals arrested on suspicion of serious felonies.

But the lawsuit against the LAPD and the policies being adopted by other cities upset the defenders of illegal immigration, who say they reflect poorly on how communities “value” their immigrants, and that they start agencies on a “slippery slope.” A slippery slope toward what, exactly? Enforcing federal immigration laws?

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